Can You Be Fired For Smoking Legal Cannabis?

Posted on May 27 2016

Cannabis is now legal in 4 states in the U.S and D.C. It’s probably that many more will follow in the coming years. That doesn’t mean that everyone is now safe to smoke in peace in the privacy of their own home. Many people are being reprimanded or even fired by their employers for smoking cannabis. Is that legal though? Can your boss just decide they don’t like stoners and fire you, even though it’s legal?

An Oregon News Anchor recently found out you could indeed by fired for smoking at home. After a motor vehicle accident in a company car, she was made to take a drug screen, which shows THC metabolites in her system. She was not under the influence and hadn’t used cannabis for some time. Even the management wanted to keep her on. However, the company policy dictated anyone who failed a drug test would be fired. 

“I wasn’t fired because I couldn’t do my job. I wasn’t fired because of my work ethic, my attitude, or my abilities. I was fired for enjoying a plant, on my own time, in the privacy of my own home. A plant that the majority of voters in Oregon believe should be legal.”

So why don’t companies start changing the rules?

For small companies, changing policy is as easy as saying ‘Ok guys, stuff works like this now, get used to it’, but it’s not so easy for large companies. Larger companies, those that operate in multiple states or countries have their policies dictated by their insurers or OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This is why there are drug tests for workplace safety in the first place. 

OSHA is mostly concerned with equipment and vehicle operators, but they enforce the policy across the board for “safe” workplace environments, including the danger of “impaired or dangerous coworkers”.

So yes, you can be fired for legal cannabis. No, it isn’t right. And No, it’s unlikely that the rules are changing for a long time. Perhaps it’s time to escape the rat race and go it alone? If you work for yourself, the only person that can decide to drug test and fire you, is you. (Apart from self-employed government contractors, those guys aren’t so lucky).



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